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Papua promotes noken as plastic bag replacement

  • Nethy Dharma Somba

    The Jakarta Post

Jayapura | Fri, March 11, 2016 | 03:03 pm
Papua promotes noken as plastic bag replacement

Handicraft maker Marta Basik-Basik (right) talks to her colleague Max Binur on the sidelines of the Noken market in Jakarta on Dec. 4, 2015. Noken are a type of woven bag made of woven or knotted bark and are traditionally used to carry everything from groceries to babies. The handicraft was acknowledged as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage item in 2012. (JP/P.J. Leo)

Papua province will promote its traditional bag, the noken, as an alternative to plastic bags in light of a government policy requiring stores to charge customers for plastic bags.

The noken, a bag made of woven or knotted bark traditionally used to carry items ranging from groceries to babies, has been acknowledged as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage item since 2012. Each village in Papua has its own signature noken.

"Replacing plastics with nokens will boost the noken industry in Papua. So besides saving the environment, we can also boost the incomes of the women who produce noken in Papua," Jayapura Plastic Bag Diet Program officer Yayan Sofyan said on Friday.

Jayapura Environment Management Agency chief Ketty Kailola also suggested the promotion of noken in the province.

"Using noken can both keep the environment and preserve culture" Ketty said.

The government launched the plastic bag reduction program last month, requiring modern retailers to charge customers Rp 200 (1 US cent) for plastic bags. The program, set to be implemented in 23 major cities, is as part of an effort to lower plastic waste in the country, which uses 9.8 billion plastic bags every year.

Saga Mall store manager Harris Manuputty said the policy had gradually shifted consumers' behavior.

"There are customers who bring their own plastic bags or refuse to use plastic bags," he said on Friday, adding that around 3,000 to 4,000 people shop at Saga Mall each day.

With a population of 275,694 people, Jayapura produces around 368 tons of plastic bags in a year, according to data from the Jayapura administration.

Yayan from the Jayapura Plastic Bag Diet Program said not all plastic waste was taken to the final dump site but thrown into the rivers, eventually becoming sea waste.

"I suggest the Jayapura administration urge people not to use plastic bags at all, instead of just charging for them," he said. (rin)(+)

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